The Nature Of Justice In Plato's The Republic

2110 Words9 Pages
The republic is an enquiry into the nature of justice. This required redesigning the polis from first principles. Plato argued that truly good conduct and the truly good state have to be based on true knowledge of things in themselves; that is, of the forms or ideas that underlie the world of appearances. Plato seems to have had an unlimited faith in the power of the mind. Plato was looking at justice starting from the individual and then, to make things clearer, in the state. He seems to invert the usual relationship: rather than seeing our ideas as arising out of social discourse, he treats the state as an illustration of the mind. In The Republic, Plato’s conventional definition: “to pay everyone what is owed to him” is promptly deconstructed by “Socrates”, who points out that according to this, one should harm one’s enemies and help one’s friends, but “it can never be just to harm anyone. (Plato, 1974) Socrates insists that one cannot base justice on self-interest or convention. Glaucon instinctively feels that justice must be one of those qualities which are loved both for their beneficial consequences and for their own sake. (Plato, 1974) Justice, he feels, is not merely a matter of convenience but something deeply embedded in human nature, an “outstanding quality of personality”, without which we cannot “live a blessed and happy life.”(Plato, 1974) Socrates undertakes to demonstrate that justice is indeed one of the greatest goods valued both for its
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